Busy week of tests in preparation for chemotheraphy

Published on June 12, 2014


So how was your week? I had a busy week since I went for a hip X-ray and then the next day I had to go for a heart scan.

Well this scan is nuclear medicine and it involves two needles, 20 minutes apart. For me that was three tries and two were on the inside of my wrists.

It didn’t hurt because I had frozen the skin with Emla cream before going for the appointment, but the thought of the needles going in under the side of wrists is not a pleasant thought to start with because my skin is so thin there.

Emla cream is a topical cream used to freeze the skin so the puncture of the needle through the skin doesn't hurt as much for people like me who hate needles. I think I mentioned before that I really hate needles… think of me as a total chicken!

Now most people who use the cream put it on the areas that they think they may be getting a needle, but not me. I put it on the way you put on suntan lotion. I put it everywhere so I don’t miss a spot.

The scan takes about a half-hour and it lets the doctors know if my heart is healthy enough to withstand chemotherapy. I’m going to be getting it soon and if my heart isn’t functioning at 50 per cent or more, the chances are they will give me a smaller dose or a weaker medicine.

The last time I was taking heavy chemo, by the end of my fifth month, my heart was just at 50 per cent. We were worried it might not stay up for the last round. I had six months of heavy chemo back in 2004 and I am really hoping my heart has recovered a bit since then. I didn’t get the results back from that yet so keep your fingers crossed.

The next day after the scan, I had an appointment for a pre-operation talk and checkup, which meant another needle for a blood test to check the regular stuff. I am not sure what the regular stuff is, but once they get the needle in and my blood out, I don’t care what they do with it a long as the needle is over with.

After that I had to get an ECG test done which required some sticky tape for the wires. It takes longer to get the johnny shirt on than to take the test. This is also a test for the heart and it’s more to check rhythm than the condition of the heart. I took a peak at the report and the lines looked very consistent so I think that’s a good thing.

My blood pressure was 112 over 74 so that wasn’t too bad. It’s usually 120 over 80 so that's actually normal.

The real zinger is that they wanted to check my weight. The scale is an instrument that should not have been invented. It should go by pants, if they don’t close you gained, if they fall down you lost and if they button you are doing well. 

The last while, mine don’t button very well. I am up to 150 pounds and I am only 4’11’’ and three quarters so you get the picture. I am a little bit on the fluffy side now.

The doctor said the treatments will go better if I lost a bit of weight. I am vegan, but this winter I kind of slipped up a bit, about a 10-pound slip-up to be exact.

I have to get myself back on track and get some weight off in a month. My most comfortable weight is around 130 or lower so its back to beans and greens for me.

I will be getting my port-a-cath inserted into my chest wall. They will be taking me to the operating room in the morning. I know there will be needles involved so both my arms will be frozen before I go. Once they put me under the anesthetic, they can give me all the needles they want.

My fear level is low in the evening, but when I realize that I can’t have anything to eat after midnight, that’s when the fear factor will go up. This is one of those times when it would be nice to have a partner or someone to hold you and say it’s going to be OK, even if it isn’t.

Oh well, on the other hand, I only have to do laundry for one and no socks rolled into balls.

I will fill you in on how it went next week, but don’t worry about me. I’ll be out looking around yard sales Saturday as usual. Have a good week folks and I am sure I saw a fruit fly near one of my bananas.


Kathy Golemiec is a resident of Westville and will be chronicling her struggles and challenging as she undergoes cancer treatments in her weekly column with The News.